Ralph Peña

Ralph Pena, a fine support bassist who could take worthy solos was highly sought after for jazz dates in the 1950s and 1960s. Pena began his career playing tuba and baritone horn before moving to bass. He started gigging professionally at the age of 15 with Jerry Austin (1942-1944). He attended college in San Francisco, and was a regular in the West Coast jazz scene. Pena was associated with Nick Esposito and Vido Musso (1950), Cal Tjader (1950), Billy May (1955-58), Stan Getz (1955-58), Charlie Barnet (1955-58), Jimmy Giuffre (1955-1958), Buddy DeFranco (1954-60), Bob Brookmeyer (1958-62). Pena was a member of the following 1960s associations: Ben Webster (Georg Shearing), Frank Sinatra (1962), Joe Pass and Nancy Wilson. Ella Fitzgerald, Anita O’Day, and Buddy DeFranco were some others. Pena did not lead his own session but he did occasionally lead his own group before his death at 42.

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